Dave Cheetham (June)
I saw this mute swan trying to keep her young cygnets under control in a howling gale on the Conwy Estuary this weekend.
Within a few hours of hatching, mute swans take their young to the water to teach them to swim. It takes about four months for them to develop the ability to fly so the parents have quite a job keeping them safe during that time. Swans can live for up to forty years.
For many centuries, mute swans in Britain were bred for food. Owners marked them with nicks on their feet or beaks. These marks had to be registered with the Crown. As a result of their popularity, a Royal Swan herd was appointed and any birds not marked as owned by individuals became the property of the crown. This domestication saved the swan for being hunted to extinction in Britain